October 21, 2011
Contact: Rachel Salis-Silverman, The Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia, 267-426-6063 or Salis@email.chop.edu.
Cookies for Kids’ Cancer, a nonprofit foundation dedicated to raising funds and awareness for pediatric cancer research, has awarded $200,000 in grants to the Cancer Center at The Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia, one of the largest pediatric cancer centers in the United States, and home to the Center for Childhood Cancer Research.
“Physician-scientists within the Center for Childhood Cancer Research at The Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia are fully committed to establishing better treatments to ultimately eradicate the pain and suffering from childhood cancer. We are motivated each day by the children we treat, and are working toward the day when all children with cancer are cured,” said John M. Maris, MD, chief, Division of Oncology and director, Center for Childhood Cancer Research at The Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia. “We are truly grateful to Cookies for Kids’ Cancer for supporting our cancer research efforts.”
“Our focus is on funding the most promising clinical trials that will get to children as quickly as possible,” Cookies for Kids’ Cancer Founder Gretchen Witt said. “We have always believed that if people learn about the need for funding, they will support the cause. These grants represent the support of thousands of people who have held bake sales, bought cookies and believed, like we do, that we can and will make a difference in the lives of children battling cancer. We are very excited about the possibilities these therapies hold and look forward to seeing them move from the lab to a treatment room as quickly as possible.”
The grant recipients are Stephan A. Grupp, MD, and Michael D. Hogarty, MD, physician-scientists at Children’s Hospital dedicated to pediatric cancer research. Each received $100,000 to continue their investigations.
Both researchers are focusing their work on neuroblastoma. Neuroblastoma, a cancer of the peripheral nervous system, usually appears as a solid tumor in the chest or abdomen. It accounts for 7 percent of all childhood cancers, but because it is often aggressive, it causes 15 percent of all childhood cancer deaths.
Dr. Hogarty is studying how to manipulate proteins inside neuroblastoma tumor cells so that those cells will not develop resistance to standard cancer treatments. Specific proteins prolong the life of cancer cells by blocking self-destruct signals used by mitochondria—tiny power plants inside all cells. Dr. Hogarty seeks to identify drugs that can target these abnormal proteins in tumor cells, thus allowing other drugs to continue eliminating the tumors.
Dr. Grupp is continuing his work in immunotherapy treatments that activate and redirect the body’s natural immune defenses to target cancer. He uses genetically engineered proteins to reprogram a patient’s own T cells—specialized white blood cells in the immune system—so they will recognize and kill cancer cells. He will also build on his previous success using this technique against acute lymphoblastic leukemia (ALL), by refining methods of growing modified T cells before returning them to pediatric patients to fight ALL. Dr. Grupp will use the grant to take these engineered cells forward into pediatric clinical testing.
Cookies for Kids’ Cancer was founded by parents inspired by their son’s fight against cancer. Today pediatric cancer remains the number one disease killer of children in the United States, due in large part to a lack of funding for research into new and improved therapies. Through the concept of local bake sales and online cookie sales, Cookies for Kids’ Cancer inspires individuals, organizations, and businesses to join in the fight against pediatric cancer by raising the funds and awareness necessary to change the facts of pediatric cancer and provide more families with the hope they deserve. Cookies for Kids’ Cancer grants funds raised to leading pediatric cancer research facilities including Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia, Texas Children’s Cancer Center, Memorial Sloan-Kettering Cancer Center, St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital and Dana Farber Cancer Center. For more information, visit www.cookiesforkidscancer.org. Follow on Facebook at www.facebook.com/cookiesforkidscancer and Twitter www.twitter.com/cookies4kids.